Sony and Apple are old pals: One makes high-end digital video cameras and the other sells machines and software for editing that footage. But that friendship looks to be on the wane, in the mobile market anyway, as reports circulate that Sony is readying a PlayStation Phone that buys apps from its own store, a custom version of Sony Marketplace.
Photos of what very well could be the PlayStation Phone in question surfaced on Engadget this week, and it appears gamers looking for a smartphone that works as a portable PSP gaming system and also runs Google Android won’t have to wait past this winter.
The hardware apparently pictured to the right has been rumored for months. More intriguing from our point of view is the detail about Sony launching its own app store. This custom version of Sony Marketplace would compete with not only Apple’s iTunes App Store, but also the Google Android Marketplace app store that the phone would purportedly also access.
Listeners who own the PlayStation Phone will face a simple choice: whether to download their music apps from Android Marketplace, or from Sony Marketplace.
Evolver.fm contacted Sony to try to confirm the report, find out how much of a cut it will take of those sales and more, but we haven’t heard back yet. For now, we assume Sony will take the same 30 percent that Apple commands from sales in the iTunes App Store.
If this smartphone for gamers is released in time for winter holiday shopping sprees, as is being reported, it will be the first time we’ve seen both types of app stores on the same device: the curated approach that Apple takes (this time practiced by Sony) and the (mostly) open approach Google takes with Android, which allows anyone to develop for it and takes no percentage of sales.
Hardcore gamers will certainly have ample reason to choose this phone over an iPhone or competing Android model. When they do, they’ll buy games from Sony Marketplace because unlike Android’s games, Sony’s will be designed specifically for that device and take full advantage of its controls — the same approach Apple takes by restricting its apps to its own iPhones.
Lots of gamers — as well as casual gamers who want an Android phone and figure they might as well pick the one that lets them or their kids play games — also listen to music. When they do, unless they’re from some other planet, they’ll often use their phones to do so.
So, which store will PlayStation Phone download their music apps from? Sony Marketplace or Android Marketplace?
Android is more established, but Sony will have several key advantages in the race to court those subscription and single-sale app downloads:
- Sony will have credit cards on file from game purchases. Apple credits its success in selling apps and music partially to its vast store of credit card numbers, allowing people to buy by typing a password rather than whipping out a credit card. Sony would have the same advantage here.
- Credits earned in games can be exchanged for paid music apps, making the purchase of music apps and subscriptions even more painless — as in free. If you beat a level in a PlayStation Phone game, your reward could be credit towards the download of a music game, free music within another app, and so on.
- The controls will come in handy for music games and music apps with interactive/remixing features.
- Many PlayStation Phone owners will already be familiar with XBox Marketplace.
If the Sony PlayStation phone takes off, music apps — especially gaming- or remix-oriented ones that take advantage of the PlayStation Phone’s directional pad controls — will have a promising new platform on which to reach a new segment of the population.
Subscription music services (MOG, Rhapsody, Spotify, etc.) and other music apps might also receive a boost, because although many hardcore gamers would probably fling their headsets into the ocean before paying for music on their computers, they could be more likely to do within apps designed with their gaming smartphones — and habits — in mind.